Wealden District Council
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Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Frequently Asked Questions

Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Frequently Asked Questions

If you are considering building your own home, then please register your interest with us.

Your registration provides the Council with an understanding of the demand for self-build and custom build plots across the District and enables us to support your needs through planning policy.

What is Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding?

Self-build means you will be actively involved in acquiring land to build a home, designing and getting planning permission for this home, and building the home. You could do all the work yourself, but it is more usual after you have found the land to commission an architect to design the building and obtain planning permission, and commission a builder or different building trades to build the home. You can self-build as an individual or as part of a group set up specifically to build your own homes.

Custom build is where a house builder offers a site for sale with a ‘design and build’ service to allow you to tailor the home that is built on the site to your requirements. House builders will allow different degrees of customisation; some will allow you to fit out (lay flooring, install kitchens and bathrooms, tile, wall paper and paint) the home yourself, while others will give you a range of fit and finishes to choose from that they will install.             

What is the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Register?

Self-build and custom housebuilding is for both individuals and associations who themselves wish to design and build a home, in which they will live and own as their sole dwelling.

Wealden District Council has a responsibility under the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 to keep a register of all individuals and associations who have expressed an interest in acquiring a serviced plot of land for the purpose of constructing a self-build or custom build home. Section 2(1) of the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended by the Housing Planning Act 2016) places a duty on relevant bodies to have regard to each self-build and custom housebuilding register, that relates to their area when carrying out their planning, housing, land disposal and regeneration functions.

Who can apply?

Applicants must meet all of the eligibility criteria for entry on the register. Each individual applicant and every member of an association of individuals that applies for entry on the register must be:

  • aged 18 or older;
  • a British citizen, a national of a EEA State other than the United Kingdom, or a national of Switzerland; and
  • seeking (either alone or with others) to acquire a serviced plot of land in the relevant authority’s area to build a house to occupy as that individual’s sole or main residence.

Although the regulations does allow the Council to set its own eligibility criteria for the registers, such ‘local eligibility conditions’ have not yet been established by Wealden District Council.

How can I apply?

If you would like to register your interest, then you can complete the Self Build and Custom Build Survey that can be found on the following page.

Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Page 

Individuals who wish to register as an association must appoint a member or officer to act as the lead contact for the purposes of correspondence.

Will I be charged a fee?

No. Wealden District Council does not currently charge a fee to those that apply to be entered onto the register.

The regulations would allow relevant authorities to charge fees to those who apply to be entered on or remain on the register, but can only set fees on a cost recovery basis. As such, any fees charged must therefore be proportionate, reflect genuine cost incurred and should not act as a deterrent for people to be entered on or remain on the register.

I understand that being on the self-build and custom-build register is not a promise of a building plot?

This is correct. The Self Build and Custom House Building Act 2015 only established a legal duty on local councils in England to register their level of interest for self-build and custom build homes. The Act does not require local planning authorities to provide serviced plots of land for self-build or to allocate land for this purpose.

Why does the Council keep a register then?

There is a requirement under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to ensure that sufficient planning permissions are granted to meet the demand for self-build and custom build homes through base periods. The Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) confirms that the first base period begins on the day in which the register is established and ends on 30 October 2016. For the Wealden District, the self-build and custom build register was established on 31 March 2016, with the base period ending on 30 October 2016. The subsequent base periods are from the 31 October to the 30 October each year.

The Council has three years from the end of a base period to grant planning permission to a number of serviced plots equal to the number of registrations received in that base period. The register is used as a material consideration in the decision-taking of planning applications for self-build and custom housebuilding.

Where can I find a suitable plot?

There is no statutory obligation for the Council to provide suitable plots for those people/organisations on the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Register. Those seeking to complete their own housebuilding project must source their own suitable plot of land. This could be done through searching estate and land agents marketing or online through dedicated self-build websites.

What is the definition of a serviced plot of land?

A serviced plot of land is a plot of land that either has access to a public highway and has connections for electricity, water and waste water, or, in the opinion of a relevant authority, can be provided with access to those things within the duration of a development permission granted in relation to that land. There is no expectation that services must be physically connected to the plot at the time of granting planning permission.       

How will the Council ensure that suitable plots are available in the District?

The Council’s current statutory development plan does not contain planning policies relating to self and custom build dwellings, owing to its adoption prior to the requisite regulations being in place (i.e. the Core Strategy Wealden Local Plan was adopted in February 2013). However, the Submission Wealden Local Plan (January 2019) does include Policy HG7 ‘Self Build and Custom Build’, which states that on development sites of 20 dwellings or more, at least 5% of the total dwellings should be made available for self-build plots, subject to there being a need in the Parish or settlement as identified in the Council’s Self Build and Custom Build Register. It is anticipated that this planning policy will support new self-build and custom build plots in the Wealden District where it is most needed.

Will I need planning permission to build my own home?

Yes. Any proposals for new dwellings, inclusive of self-build or custom build projects, will require full planning permission unless it involves a change of use that is permitted under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) and in such cases, this would normally require the prior approval of the local planning authority. The proposed development would be assessed against the statutory development plan for the Wealden District that includes the Wealden District Core Strategy Local Plan (adopted February 2013), the ‘saved’ policies of the Wealden Local Plan (adopted in 1998) and the Affordable Housing Delivery Local Plan (adopted in May 2016), as well as other material considerations.

It should be noted that Wealden District Council has also submitted its new Wealden Local Plan (January, 2019) to the Secretary of State for its public examination process. If the Wealden Local Plan is accepted by the Planning Inspectorate, the Council would seek to adopt this document and this will form part of the statutory development plan. You will also be required to comply with Building Regulations.

Will the Council give me planning permission if I am on the register?

No. As discussed above, registering on the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Register does not mean that planning permission will be automatically granted for such projects and each proposal will be assessed on its own planning merits.

It should be noted that Wealden District Council does offer various types of pre-application advice, the details of which are provided on the webpage below:

Pre-Application Advice Page

I understand that constructing a new dwelling as a self or custom build project would mean that I am exempt from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)?

Wealden District Council introduced the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in April 2016, following its adoption in November 2015, and in effect, this sets out a charge for all new residential and retail development in the District that meets the necessary requirements of the adopted CIL Charging Schedule. This does include all new residential dwellings.

However, the Government, in support of individuals and communities wishing to build their own homes, has helped self builders by enabling them to apply for an exemption from the CIL. The exemption, if the necessary qualification requirements are met and the application process is completed within the required timescales, will apply to anybody who is building their own home or has commissioned a home from a contractor, house builder or sub-contractor. Individuals claiming the exemption must own the property and occupy it as their principal residence for a minimum of 3 years after the work is completed. For further information on this exemption and for the required forms, please see the webpage below:

GOV.UK Community Infrastructure Levy Guidance

Where can I find information on the Council’s progress with the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Register?

The Council’s progress on delivering self-build and custom housebuilding is published on a yearly basis in the Council’s Authority Monitoring Report. The latest Authority Monitoring Report (AMR) for the 2020/21 period can be found on the following webpage. 

Authority Monitoring Report Page

The Council also has its own dedicated webpage for self-build and custom build. A summary of the key information relating to the Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Register is provided each month.

Where can I find information on Community Land Trusts?

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are non-for-profit groups set up and run by local volunteers to build affordable homes. CLTs raise money to buy land and keep its value for the benefit of the local community, not only to deliver homes, but also businesses, shops and pubs.

Affordable self-build and custom housebuilding projects may come forward in the District and the Council will work cooperatively with CLTs. However, the Council itself does not have the resources or expertise to facilitate such groups, but there are organisations that can assist, which includes the National Community Land Trust Network and the Sussex Community Housing Hub. The links to these organisations are below:

National Community Land Trust Network

Sussex Community Housing Hub AIRS

GOV.UK Self Build and Customer Housebuilding Guidance

Wealden District Council Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedule, November 2015